FC Barcelona (7th, 15pts) vs Real Madrid (3rd, 17pts)*
Competition/Round: 2021-22 La Liga, Matchday 10
Barcelona Outs & Doubts: Pedri, Ronald Araujo, Ousmane Dembélé, Martin Braithwaite (out)
Real Madrid Outs & Doubts: Gareth Bale, Isco, Luka Jovic, Dani Ceballos (out)
Date/Time: Sunday, October 24, 2021, 4.15pm CET (Barcelona), 3.15pm BST/WAT (UK & Nigeria), 10.15am ET, 7.15am PT (USA), 7.45pm IST (India)
Venue: Camp Nou, Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain
Referee: José María Sánchez Martínez
VAR: José Luis González González
How to watch on TV: Not Available (USA), TSN 1 (Canada), Premier Sports 1 (UK), SuperSport (Nigeria), MTV (India), Movistar LaLiga (Spain), others
Following a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Dynamo Kiev to keep them alive in the Champions League group stage, Barcelona return to action for the biggest game in the world as they welcome Real Madrid to the Greatest Stadium on Earth for what is expected to be the largest crowd at Camp Nou in almost 20 months.
Barça started a crucial week with two important wins over Valencia and Dynamo, but the performance against Kiev was concerning and doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence for this one, especially considering how well Los Blancos are playing. They have won only one of their last three, but the 5-0 destruction of Shakhtar Donetsk in Europe on Tuesday made it clear they are just as good as they were to start the season.
Real Madrid are flying and can’t stop scoring, with Karim Benzema and Vinicius Júnior dominating every defense they face. It is no secret Barça’s defense has been beyond poor this season, and the prospect of those two against the Blaugrana backline is legit scary.
But the biggest difference between the two teams is on the sidelines: Carlo Ancelotti has brought new life to Madrid after an inconsistent campaign last season under Zinedine Zidane, and has already made an impact not only on the team as a whole but in individual players such as Vinicius, who is all of a sudden one of Europe’s best finishers under Ancelotti.
Madrid’s midfield continues to be as crucial as ever to their sucess, and David Alaba has fit like a glove in defense. It pains me to say it but Madrid are big favorites coming into this one, but Barça will be at home and will relish the chance to play the underdog role and come up with a big victory.
My feelings on Ronald Koeman are pretty clear at this point, but I want him to succeed and coach a brilliant game to lead us to victory. When it’s El Clásico time, nothing else matters. The financial situation, the coaching situation, everything that causes stress about the club will go away for at least a few days if we win El Clásico.
We can worry about fixing everything later. Let’s f***ing dance and win this thing.
Barcelona (4-3-3): Ter Stegen; Roberto, Piqué, García, Alba; De Jong, Busquets, Gavi; Dest, Memphis, Fati
Real Madrid (4-3-3): Courtois; Nacho, Militão, Alaba, Mendy; Modric, Casemiro, Kroos; Rodrygo, Benzema, Vinicius
I’d love to be the optimist I always am, but Real Madrid have the better coach and red-hot attacking players who will be too much for our terrible defense: 3-2 to the visitors.